The recent election in Venezuela has left the country in even more disarray than it was already in. President Nicolas Maduro was elected to serve a second six-year term as president. The people of Venezuela and many other countries have claimed that the election was a sham and unjust. The main opposition said it would refuse to run against Maduro because they knew the election would be staged. Stating that the government decided to move the election from its scheduled time in December, all the way to May so that they would have an advantage. The government saw it as an easy win in May because most of the oppositions political figures were banned from running for office, jailed, or had fled the country. Luckily for the government one opposer decided to run for the presidency, Henri Falcón. Making the election look like a far race, but right after the election Henri called it rigged an unfair. Because a starving country was promised food if it voted for Maduro. The elections had a 48% turnout at the polls. Which was down from the 80% at the previous 2013 election. Many experts are also saying that the 48% is inflated with the actual turnout being more around 30%. The Venezuelan CNE is supposed to govern the election independent of the government but four of its five seats are supposedly filled with Maduros puppets. With So many issues and red flags going on in a country in turmoil what are the implications of such events?
Government will try and take more control of the people
Recently used in the elections was the governments new way of tracking its citizens. With the help of China, the government has issued state cards or “fatherland cards”. With these cards the people can receive government handouts and services. Which most people so desperately need. To get one you must tell the government all about yourself and your economic status. Moving towards a social credit score system like the one in China. Allowing the government to keep gaining more control over its citizens. Without this card you cannot receive the government benefits in this socialist country. Voters in the 2018 election had to use them to vote. After voting they could scan their cards at a local government station to receive “a prize”. A prize of food handed out to those whose cards showed they had voted for Maduro.
I should say “more” civil unrest. Venezuela already has had plenty of it. Capped off by large riots in 2017 that were met with violence by the government. It’s easy to see that after the sham 2018 election, and Maduro recently taking office again at the start of the new year, that the unrest will grow in the nation. Venezuelans are still fleeing the country as inflation rises. Food is still non-existent, the government is becoming more of a dictatorship and the infant malnutrition rises to 70% in some rural areas. As Maduro took office at the turn of the year, the national assembly, which was elected in 2015 to rule the country, appointed Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president. Unfortunately, the national assembly was disavowed by Maduro after its election and he created his own assembly. The national assembly still meets but it has no true power over Maduro’s government. Though as if it were a shining beam of hope to the people it appointed the relatively unknown politician Guaidó as the actual president. Unrecognized by Maduro and his government Guaidó has been recognized by many countries as the acting president of Venezuela.
The U.S.A. recognized Juan Guaidóas the president of Venezuela and said it would be placing sanctions on the country if Maduro’s regime acted out against the people. Acted out as in killing protestors or Juan Guaidó. These sanctions include an oil embargo which would hurt Venezuela deeply because it is completely dependent on its oil exports. Even though its exports are at an all-time low the country still receives 75% of its income on oil from the U.S.A. These sanctions would affect the U.S.A as well with many of the refineries on the east coast using mostly crude oil from Venezuela. This could cause a spike in oil prices in the U.S.A because the Venezuelan oil is cheaper than other options. After the U.S.A recognized Guaidó as President, Maduro ordered all Americans to leave the country within 72 hours. The U.S.A did not recognize Maduro as a legitimate government official for Venezuela, so they ignored the threat and are going to keep the embassy open with limited personnel.
Other countries such as Argentina, Brasil and many in the European union have also recognized Guaidó as the actual president of Venezuela. The E.U. nations of Spain, France, Germany, and Britain have come out with an ultimatum for Venezuela. Saying that they need to call an election within eight days, or they would also recognize Juan Guiadó as the president of Venezuela. While other left leaning countries such as Cuba and Bolivia have shown their support for Maduro.
The military will be key
Maduro and his government will have a tough time trying to keep control. The civil unrest is already happening and will only get worse as more countries and Venezuelan people will support Guaidó and the opposition. Sanctions will come in and Maduro will have to look to form new alliances. He has already looked towards Turkey, India and other Asian countries. The key to this whole power struggle will be the military. According to Brian Fonseca who has studied the situation in Venezuela for years the military is the most respected institution in Venezuela. Making it a deciding factor in the countries future as it decides where its loyalties lie. Previous president Hugo Chavez was a military man and had the respect of the military. While Maduro keeps giving land and mining funds to the military that back his regime. Sometimes having the military commit crimes against the people. The opposition made its move to gain the militaries trust through Juan Guaidó’s controversial promise. A promise of amnesty to the military if they join the opposition.
Even if inflation keeps rising, people keep fleeing the nation and the government takes more control. Even if Juan Guaidó never takes true power in Venezuela to hopefully lead it back to the right path. One thing is for certain and that is that Venezuela has many hard years ahead of it. With a corrupt government the civil unrest is surely going to grow and take action. How bad it becomes though is something that no one can predict. One can just hope that it leads to a brighter future for a once prosperous nation.
- Morgan, Jana. “Here Are the 3 Big Shifts in Venezuela That You Probably Missed – and Will Change What Comes Next.” The Washington Post. January 25, 2019. Accessed January 26, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2019/01/25/three-significant-changes-emerged-in-venezuela-this-week/?utm_term=.dc1dc32370a7.
- Naím, Moisés, and Francisco Toro. “Venezuela’s Suicide.” Foreign Affairs. January 23, 2019. Accessed January 26, 2019. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/south-america/2018-10-15/venezuelas-suicide.
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- Al Jazeera. “EU Nations Give Venezuela’s Maduro Eight-day Ultimatum.” GCC News | Al Jazeera. January 26, 2019. Accessed January 26, 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/eu-nations-give-venezuela-maduro-day-ultimatum-190126115807947.html.
- “Venezuelans Fear ‘Fatherland Card’ May Be a New Form of Social Control.” Public Radio International. Accessed January 26, 2019. https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-12-28/venezuelans-fear-fatherland-card-may-be-new-form-social-control.
- “U.S. Orders All Non-emergency Staff out of Venezuela, Advises Visiting Americans to Leave.” NBCNews.com. Accessed January 26, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/u-s-orders-all-non-emergency-diplomatic-staff-out-venezuela-n962471.
- Kumar, Devika Krishna. “U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela Would Reroute Crude, Leave Refiners Short.” Reuters. January 24, 2019. Accessed January 26, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-usa-oil-graphic/u-s-sanctions-on-venezuela-would-reroute-crude-leave-refiners-short-idUSKCN1PH2GU.